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Nevada militia heightens tension with armed checkpoints

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The small area where Cliven Bundy’s ranch resides in Clark County, Nevada is now under occupation. The men and women of the armed militia who support the cattle rancher have set up checkpoints near Bundy’s home, requiring motorists to show identification to prove their residence before being allowed to pass.

Clark County Sheriff, Doug Gillespie, has faced increasing pressure to require the militiamen to disperse. Nevada’s Democratic Representative, Steven Horsford, penned a letter to Gillespie on Monday urging the Sheriff to ensure the safety of Bunkersville’s residents. Horsford himself has received complaints from residents in his district that Bundy’s supporters are intimidating the community, allegedly carrying firearms openly near churches, schools and other public areas.

This rural area of Nevada, just north of Las Vegas, has become the epicenter of right vs. left, Fox News vs. CNN, Republican vs. Democrat and whatever other relevant analogy you can think of. Inspired by Bundy’s American spirit and fearlessness to stand up to “The Man,” the militia won’t leave until the rancher’s dispute with the Bureau of Land Management is settled. Neither side has showed any indication of giving up.

The BLM accuses Bundy of trespassing on protected land. In early March, BLM closed off hundreds of thousands of acres near the Bundy ranch to protect the habitat of the desert tortoise. Bundy's family has grazed cattle on this land for as long as anyone can remember and allegedly claims to own water rights on this recently confiscated area. The BLM has demanded Bundy pay past-due grazing fees over the last 20 years, reportedly worth $1 million. The militia stepped in as soon as the government moved in to repossess the hundreds of cattle owned by Bundy.

Bundy wants to keep his property while the government wants it’s cut, neither will shy away from this standoff. It appears a resolution doesn’t seem likely in the immediate future. Both the Nevada rancher and the BLM have a lot to lose, but the real losers of this debacle are the residents of Bunkersville caught in the crossfire. By being forced to prove their residence before allowing to proceed toward their homes, this is as close to martial law as it gets.

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